piranha: red origami crane (Default)
one thing that continues to annoy me is the outcry on how critics of the thirteenth child haven't even read the book!, and this one just will not die.

and it just flabbergasts me, this notion that i have to have read a book before i can decide whether i actually want to buy and read it. (though hey, it argues for illegal downloading!)

if i read a book a day, and granted myself a lifespan of 100 years and reading ability from the time i popped out of the womb, i'd still only be able to read 36,500 books, which is a tiny fraction of all the books in the world. isn't it obvious that i have to have some method to pre-sort those millions of books somehow? and shouldn't it be up to me how i do that?

certainly, i cannot made a thorough critical analysis without having read a book; i cannot analyze the plot, or talk about whether the characters are fully realized. but that's not what people are doing! they are saying that the premise makes them uncomfortable, that they are unlikely to want to read a book with that premise. and they're saying that not in response to a hostile review that distorts the facts, they're saying it in response to a friendly review, by a person who thought this might be the author's best book yet. and other people who have read the book have chimed in and said, yes, that is the premise on which the book is built, yes, these are the assumptions, and no, the author doesn't throw in a surprising twist to show us that the natives left a giant hole, megafauna falls, everyone dies.

you can't judge the entirety of a book by its cover. but i can certainly decide whether to buy it, or push it hastily back onto the shelf if the cover features a swarthy, loincloth-clad native in war paint, with feathers in his hair, and in his arms a swooning women in a ballroom gown with her creamy, alabaster bosom half-exposed, blond curls streaming in the wind. if covers didn't matter at all, publishers could just use kraft paper.

if reviews didn't matter at all, if people can't decide based on them whether a book might speak to them, why does every book seller worth their salt offer them? in reality reviews can make or break a book.
the facts of the premise, and it being followed through in this book are not in dispute at all.

heck, even those who'd argue that we need to take authorial intent into account (she's a nice person, and she didn't MEAN it!)(*sigh*, cf. path to hell, paved with), are easy to counter by simply quoting patricia wrede herself, from a discussion of her ideas for the book in rec.arts.sf.composition:

The *plan* is for it to be a "settling the frontier" book, only without Indians (because I really hate both the older Indians-as-savages viewpoint that was common in that sort of book, *and* the modern Indians-as-gentle-ecologists viewpoint that seems to be so popular lately, and this seems the best way of eliminating the problem, plus it'll let me play with all sorts of cool megafauna). I'm not looking for wildly divergent history, because if it goes too far afield I won't get the right feel.

this is pretty much the death knell. no, a PoC doesn't need to read a book about which its author has said this, to judge it as lacking. it is perfectly clear that:

a. wrede felt the easiest way to deal with stereotypes was to... erase the stereotyped people entirely.

b. she's unaware that the quarternary extinction might've not been due to prehistoric overkill; there are equally likely (if not more so) hypotheses.

c. she spent more time discussing the choice of an alternative name for england than she thought about real-world effects on the people she was so handily erasing. no, really. go read the entire thread. it's ever so geeky, but oh, it reeks of white privilege, and i am ashamed. one person made the mildest suggestion to have the natives be "reluctant shamans" instead of writing them out, and she brushed that off with "Well, that's your book. This one's mine, and I'm doing mammoths and wooly rhinos and no Indians.".

d. she was not looking for wildly divergent history, and yet she thought nothing of completely erasing the existing peoples of america. this, if nothing else, proves just how successful the actual erasure has been -- she acts as if natives did nothing more than name some landscape features, and oh yeah, hunt the megafauna to extinction.

so go away with your but you haven't read the book. it's just another distraction from the callousness of this book's premise, and the white privilege cluelessness of its author and those of us who knew but didn't say anything. there are native people in minnesota, you know? some of them have been long-time science fiction and fantasy fans. even before the internet! there are PoC SFF fans all over the world, even if most of them don't go to SF cons. but ms wrede as well as ms bujold don't know any, except maybe octavia butler.

if you're a PoC, do let them know you exist, and you count, and you matter. if you're a PoP (person of pallor), go look, because it might give you more perspective next time the question of "why is SFF so white" comes up.
piranha: red origami crane (orizuru)
or maybe of kinko's, costco's, and 7-11's.

espresso book machine launches in london; the machine prints and binds books on demand in five minutes, while customers wait.
piranha: toothy open mouth of piranha (pissed)
now they're using the DMCA to restrict where you can buy e-books.

i didn't buy a kindle because a) i don't like DRM, and b) i don't like being tied to an overlord (even if benign) for my reading pleasure.

this isn't going to change my mind, rather it's moving me back towards not even buying paper books from amazon again, because this isn't "benign" by any stretch of the imagination.

no kindle in my future now, definitely.
piranha: red origami crane (Default)
i feel moved to convert my anger into something semi-useful. as in, work on my own skanky race issues, which mostly consist of good ole liberal colour-"blindness". i wasn't raised that way; i did it myself, partially in reaction to my birth family's racist attitudes against roma and turks. i am 1/16th roma, but i don't look it, though it's obvious compared to how the rest of my family looks, that the genes expressed themselves differently in me. i'm never read as anything but "white" anywhere else, so i've never experienced any racism directed at me from outside of my family, and definitely never any of the institutionalized kind.

the self-trained colour-"blindness" didn't mean that i don't see human skin colour, but i've always treated it just like horse or cat colours -- yeah, i see it, and i use it in descriptions, and i might find some colour particularly pretty, but it's irrelevant to how i treat the being in question. and online i've never sought to find out about people's race, just like i don't care about their gender and age.

which is whitey-white privilege, of course. i know that now. i can choose to ignore race and even pat myself on the back for that. it doesn't follow me home like it does every PoC over here. *gah*, i was a clueless git. i want to improve. though i also know i don't have many spoons. so, baby steps.

#1: if any acquaintance of mine who is a person of colour, feels i've acted in a oblivious racist way towards them, please tell me. i promise to listen and not act defensively in return. i also promise not to ask you to teach me better; you're not required to assist me in passing racism 101. though if there is something in specific you would like me to do, please tell me that as well.

#2: a result of my selective vision has been that i am not usually aware of the ethnic background of authors, unless they write about their experiences as a person of a specific background, or for some reason i've picked up that they're of that background (it sort of comes with the territory when talking about manga that pretty much all the authors are japanese; when the ethnicity changes, the genre changes to manhua, manwha, or OEL). it's not that i imagine everyone to be white; i just don't imagine them to be anything. but i realize that this denies a part of who people are. so i want to become more conscious of it, and i want to make an effort to read books in particular by people of colour.

i've already found [livejournal.com profile] 50books_poc, and will add to my reading list after going through it. i'm not committing to actually reading 50 books from that list in a year because i do so badly with obligations for my free time, and because my book reading is never meant to be a chore of any sort, and what jumps in my lap to be read NOW is impossible to predict. i do commit to buy the books from that list, and to allow as many of them as possible to yell "SHINY! pick ME!" when i am in prowl mood. and manga doesn't count, because i already have oodles of it around to be read. i am also not allowed to make the entire list japanese, even aside from manga.

the list needs to be constructed to contain not much reading that requires extremely heavy lifting, but lots of SFF and mysteries, mostly novels (not short stories; novellas ok, but nothing under 10,000 words).

maybe some of you can help me with the list of authors. i know of: these )
piranha: red origami crane (Default)

viola x williamsii 'eye of the tiger'

when i saw it, i knew what it had to be called. :) burpee has seeds for this lovely viola hybrid.

no walking today either because i am lazy mcbum, lying on the couch all day and reading kirby crow's scarlet & the white wolf trilogy (which is rather better than the title led me to believe, and a heck of a lot less smutty). the lack of smut doesn't even bother me; who would have expected such a good story in this genre? it sucked me in with the first volume and i cannot stop reading it. in fact i think this trilogy could easily live in the fantasy genre instead of in homoerotic romance. i should write a review (yeah yeah, i should write about 2-300 manga reviews too).


Nov. 27th, 2007 10:03
piranha: red origami crane (Default)
last week chapters had a 20% off sale, so i forced myself to go to the store. :) the real catch turned out to be the takemiya, not something i would have expected to find, and the editions (by vertical) look nice (though no dustcovers, no colour inserts, *sigh*), but large, with wide inner margin, crisply printed. this is a classic tragedy by one of the famous "24-gumi" [1] and i grabbed the 3 volume set faster than a speeding bullet.

bujold, louis mcmaster diplomatic immunity (SFF)
enjin yamimaru   voice or noise v1 (manga, BL)
iwaaki hitoshi parasyte v2 (manga, seinen)
king laurie a. the art of detection (M)
lehman, timothy r.   manga - masters of the art (NF, art)
monette, sarah the virtu (SFF)
rankin, ian fleshmarket close (M)
rankin, ian the naming of the dead (M)
rowland, laura joh red chrysanthemum (M)
shinkai makoto & sahara mizu    voices of a distant star (manga, seinen)
takemiya keiko   to terra v1 (manga, shounen)
takemiya keiko to terra v2 (manga, shounen)
takemiya keiko to terra v3 (manga, shounen)

[1] the 24-gumi were a group of mangaka born around the year 24 shouwa (1949), who were pioneers in developing what we now call "shoujo" manga (manga especially marketed to girls), incidentally also setting off the boys' love boom. it was a Really Big Deal for takemiya, a female girls' mangaka, to get published in a shounen (boys) magazine.
piranha: red origami crane (Default)
bergh renémake your own patterns (NF, crafts)
carson tsiacraftivity (NF, crafts)
greenspan alanthe age of turbulence (NF, bio)
hoffman w.a.raised by wolves: matelots (F, gay)
ogasawara ukivirtuoso di amore (manga, BL)
rehfeldt janet & wood mary jane  crocheted socks (NF, crafts)
souryo fuyimi  ES eternal sabbath v3 (manga, seinen)
souryo fuyimi  ES eternal sabbath v4 (manga, seinen)
takumi youmelted love (manga, BL)
taylor kathleenyarns to dye for (NF, crafts)
urushibara yukimushishi v2 (manga, seinen)
yoshinaga fumilovers in the night (manga, BL)
yoshinaga fumidon't say anymore, darling (manga, BL)
yamada yugipicnic (manga, BL)
piranha: red origami crane (Default)
one of my favourite SFF writers, karl schroeder, has re-released his first novel, ventus, as an e-book under a creative commons license. if you've never yet read anything by him, go check it out. (there are reviews at the site, so i don't have to write one here :).
piranha: red origami crane (Default)
air delivery from japan is so fast.

KANO shiuko君さえいれば (kimi sae ireba) (manga, BL)
TAKAMURE tamotsu  前奏曲 ~プレリュード~ (prelude) (manga, BL)
OGASAWARA uki裏刀神記 v2 (ura katana kami no ki) (manga, BL)
OOMINE Shoukoラブリー・シック v3 (lovely sick) (manga, BL)
OOMINE Shoukoラブリー・シック v4 (lovely sick) (manga, BL)
HIGA sakiaLSD v1 (manga, BL)
HIGA sakiaLSD v2 (manga, BL)
HIGA sakiaLSD v3 (manga, BL)

some extremely pretty art in this haul. higa sakia -- very intense. ogasawara uki too (and both completely uncensored -- yay). the kano shiuko on the other hand is badly censored -- white scribbles all over. *yuck*. that'd be a bitch to restore. though i might just do that, since it hasn't been scanlated yet.
piranha: red origami crane (Default)
cause while i was asleep, zie went to our postal drop BY BIKE to pick up my latest book order from chapters, all 6 kg of it.

taeko KAMIDAthe handbook of japanese adjectives and adverbs (lang)
sue a. KAWASHIMA  a dictionary of japanese particles (lang)
hinako TAKANAGAchallengers v2 (manga, BL)
hinako TAKANAGAchallengers v3 (manga, BL)
hinako TAKANAGAchallengers v4 (manga, BL)
fumi YOSHINAGAichigenme... the first class is cicil law v2 (manga, yaoi)
HOMERUN kenclan of the nakagamis (manga, BL)
shoko HIDAKAnot enough time (manga, BL)
chigusa KAWAIla esperança v6 (manga, BL)
chigusa KAWAIla esperança v7 (manga, BL)
i bought these a couple of weeks ago locally:
yuki URUSHIBARAmushishi v1 (manga, seinen)
hitoshi IWAAKIparasyte v1 (manga, seinen)
fuyumi SOURYOES - eternal sabbath v1 (manga, seinen)
fuyumi SOURYOES - eternal sabbath v2 (manga, seinen)

everybody uses a different system of romanization, which bites. i can understand why they reverse the normal japanese name order (familyname first, given/personal name last) to adjust to the west, but apparently they don't always reverse it ("homerun ken" is written the same way as it would be in japan (ホームラン・拳), and no, it has nothing to do with baseball; it's pronounced hoe-MEH-roon. though maybe it has to do with baseball, since the author writes it in katakana, and BL mangaka often use pseudonyms, some of which are weird. ok, this might be a special case). but they also drop out lengthening indicators, as in "shoko", which should really be spelled "shohko" to get around the wrong pronunciation english speakers would give to a romanized "shooko" (日高ショーコ). ah well. nobody but me cares. except maybe other people who catalogue their books on computers.

these are the first english manga i've bought in 3 or 4 years, and quality-wise they are quite nice. the dramaqueen editions have lovely separate colour covers, colour inserts, and good quality paper -- they really look like japanese editions, so pretty! the juné editions are slightly larger, which i appreciate (larger graphics are a good thing). they also have separate colour covers, but no colour inserts, and the paper isn't quite as good. del rey doesn't have separate covers (though mushishi fakes it by using really thick paper and flaps), and no colour inserts. dramaqueen uses japanese honorifics (and seems to presume readers know what those are), the first juné book i opened uses "mr." -- *blech*. i have come to hate that because it loses so much nuance, and it now actively sounds wrong to my ears. del rey also uses japanese honorifics, plus a page to explain them -- that's ideal IMO; it teaches english readers just a little bit about a foreign culture, and it preserves the detail that comes with the honorifics.

hey, i can legally buy manga in a bookstore that could get me permanently suspended from livejournal were i to post the smex from it (cause some of the boys are not yet 18). isn't that special.
piranha: red origami crane (reading)
on sunday i went to chapters (bookstore), as a reward for also running errands -- buying a home depot gift card, and printer ink cartridges. cunningly i avoided the manga shelves for the most part (except, ok, i fondled the pretty edition of earthian, but i really would like to have kouga yun's art in a larger format, and hanging on my wall).

the most needed purchase was a very concise japanese grammar (schaum's). sure, it's been pretty exciting to figure out from listening to drama CDs that japanese must have two classes of adjectives, one that behaves like verbs (and gets conjugated similarly), and one that doesn't, but it's a whole lot easier to read up about that, *wry grin*.

while i am extremely happy with the WWWDIC server (and my undying gratitude goes to jim breen for creating this wonder), i really like paper dictionaries, and the one thing the WWWDIC server is missing are example sentences that clarify usage. i found a great little (that should be in quotes; we're talking 550 pages) dictionary that fits my needs well at this time, the oxford pocket kenkyusha. it has kanji, kana, romaji, example sentences, it tells whether a verb is irregular, and it has examples. once i am more advanced i want to buy an electronic dictionary from japan, but it's as yet too soon for that.

the most fantabulous book i bought is the guide to remembering japanese characters by kenneth g. henshall. it gives details of the "general use characters", the 1,945 characters prescribed by the japanese ministry of education for everyday use, in the order in which japanese school children are taught. it contains on- and -kun readings, english meaning, examples of usage, suggestions for mnemonics (which range from amusing to meh, but are fun to think about), and best of all, scholarly (if compressed) etymology. it doesn't include stroke order, but since i am mostly using a word processor, and have a separate book for that anyway, i don't really care. i am totally excited about this -- i am lugging it along with me between my room, the bathroom, and the computer, *heh*.
piranha: toothy open mouth of piranha (pissed)
i don't have the energy to do anything myself today, but i want to throw my support behind those who do, because i grew up -- in terms of the net -- within the gift culture, and will cherish it and participate in it until the day i die. i buy lots of fiction, manga, and some fine art because i've encountered the creators and/or their free samples online, so this attitude isn't particularly anti-capitalism even though it springs from the gift culture. but it is decidedly against the dimwitted sort of economics howard v. hendrix purports.

[livejournal.com profile] papersky is collecting links with contributions. and there's a community: [livejournal.com profile] ipstp. enjoy!

oh, and hendrix? am not likely gonna buy anything written by him again. not even just because of the ignorant and insulting rant, but because i still haven't managed to get through light paths after the second try. that's two strikes; with this many great authors out there, somebody in line for the third goes straight to the back burner. and since i won't be able to read anything good by hendrix on the web that would allow me to change my current opinion, tough noogies, eh.
piranha: red origami crane (Default)
the big disadvantage of watching a truly excellent drama showed itself last night with force. zip.ca mailed me the first farscape episodes, so i was all excited to finally see that from the beginning, because i'd only caught the occasional episode here and there. and while it always had a certain hokeyness (i never bought rigel as anything but a cute puppet, and crichton was just a wee bit too snappy), i could take it seriously for large stretches. now it's basically unwatchable for me as anything but pure comedy, and that's a pity, because it doesn't stand up as that since it's not meant as that. the acting in farscape -- wow, not so good in comparison. i know that probably dooms stargate atlantis for me as well right now.

and i better stay away from rewatching firefly for a good long time, *sigh*.

i remember the west wing doing this to me as well.

in another medium, i've unfortunately also now met a robert charles wilson book i didn't care for: darwinia. damn. maybe i didn't read it in big enough chunks? being so obsessed with BSG i've really just read a few pages before falling asleep every day, and sometimes that doesn't keep a book cohesive enough for me. oh well, he's certainly allowed a dud in any case, given how marvelous everything else that i've read by him has been.
piranha: red origami crane (Default)
extracted and expanded from elsejournal where the question was asked how the heck we remember what books we've read over the course of our lives so that we can fill out those book list lj-memes.

i am not entirely sure. i am quite sure that i do not remember completely: i have occasionally begun to read a new book which started to sound more and more familiar until i finally realized that i had previously read it some years ago.

i have a relatively bad memory for associating titles with content. ask me a few months after i read something to name the book in which X happens and i will likely draw a blank. ask me what books i read earlier this year, and i have to refer you to a list i made. but if you show me a title (better: show me the actual book), i will usually remember whether i have read it. this is why i hate retitling, and would be happy if reissues were to use the same covers. if i've not read a book there'll be a big blank spot in my mind associated with its author/title. if i have read it, i won't necessarily remember its content, but i will remember something about it, some flashes -- part will be from its content, but there will also be bits about the cover, some emotional gist, and formally unrelated stuff like whether i later found red sand in it because i read it on the beach on PEI.

i have a much better memory for authors, and i can often deduce crosswise from that whether i've read something. i have no idea why names stick so much better than titles. it might be that names are a primary access key for me while titles aren't.

and, i keep lists. also my own reviews, even if they're just miniscule. re-reading those now and then anchors titles better in my memory.

something else that helps with that: the quality of the book. really good (and really bad) stick better. the SFBC list contains lots of really good works (and one abysmally bad one); i remember most of them for that, and for a couple i wasn't sure about. a quick check in my book lists confirmed. hm... i guess it's not so much the quality of the book, actually, but its emotional/intellectual impact. [1]

[1] i suddenly feel the overwhelming urge to coin "emollectual" or "intemotional" solely to make fun of proponents of "sexualoving". bad, bad, bad fish.
piranha: red origami crane (Default)
In 2005, Time magazine picked the 100 best English-language novels. mark the selections you have read in bold. If you liked it, add a star (*) in front of the title, if you didn't, give it a minus (-). Then, put the total number of books you've read in the subject line.

i didn't bother with the liked/disliked marking; i can in fact not remember it about quite a number of these books, which i read more than 30 years ago.  and while this list may make me look well-read, it's a picture of my past.  in the last 10 years i've read very little mainstream fiction, embarrassingly little.  some of the names on this list i don't recognize, and posting it will remind me to look those up.

i'm happy to see some SF here, and even a graphic novel. 

[ETA] thanks to [livejournal.com profile] king_tirian i can give links to the original article, and to how they determined the list.

via [info]nex0s.

piranha: red origami crane (Default)
i could have sworn i posted about this when i first heard they were about to release it, but can't find it now.

anyway, sony has released its electronic book reader, ever so originally called the "sony(r) portable reader system". the price tag is too steep for me as yet at U$350, but this is the first of all the ebook readers that seriously tempts me. and the really good news is that they're backordered already until end of november, so it sounds like interest is higher than expected (or maybe sony is being an ass and trying to hype it by making it harder to get?).

it's still far from ideal, but it's starting to really aim in the right direction:

  • large, daylight-readable e-ink display (6" diag, 170 ppi)
  • changeable text size
  • awesome battery life (7500 page-turns; page display itself uses hardly any charge)
  • memory capacity for hundreds of books (64MB internal, can use SD memory and memory stick (tm))
  • lightweight (about 9oz), about the size of a paperback
  • can read txt, pdf, rtf, word (via conversion), and sony's proprietary ebook format
  • graphics support at 4 levels of grayscale (jpg, png, gif, bmp)
  • audio support (mp3, aac)
maybe for my birthday...


Aug. 26th, 2006 23:15
piranha: red origami crane (Default)
makes it the last load of laundry in the washer. today was a productive if dull day; the landlords are away celebrating the wedding of their eldest, and we have the dog, and the laundry facilities. so that's what i spent most of the day doing, including hanging stuff on the line to dry. walked the dog, too, and deep-watered all the plants, ours and theirs (i want some rain!). and cooked a real dinner (pork tenderloin in korma sauce with noodles and cucumber salad -- my stout little cukes are very yummy this year). ha. i feel almost like a normal person.

and for once the novel that i thought should have won the hugo, did win it. spin by robert charles wilson (another fine canadian writer). the best book i've read yet this year.

the hugo winners.

oh, and i harvested some daucus carota seeds (wild carrot, or queen anne's lace), and mashed them up in the mortar to sniff what they smell like. mmmh! i have no idea how to describe that smell, but i like it a lot -- it's earthy, but not musty; more pungent, fresh, herbaceous, and a little bit spicy. daucus carota is one of the essential oils good for skin, especially irritations, and it's usually quite expensive (they're tiny seeds). i'm back thinking about building a still.
piranha: red origami crane (Default)
went to the bank to deposit checque (yay, we shall live another couple months thanks to our small company contract whose owner is fantastic about paying, while the big company screws us over some more). stopped by the little asian food- and giftstore to buy curry and some other random goodies, like coconut spread, kimchee, and japanese "calpis water" (which was, contrary to its somewhat unfortunate name, très yummy, albeit not carbonated as the store owner claimed). and to chapters, to look for farthing and the virtu. they didn't have either, *mope*, though that means i'll be able to calm down about the latter, and make myself wait until it comes out in paperback. the paramour bought up almost their entire stock of kakura puzzles. and of course i couldn't walk out without buying something; that'd be the day.
small haul here if you care )
also went into canadian tire to see whether they'd have a kickboard, but no win. bought two thick noodles instead, with which, in combination with a piece of lexan yet to be acquired, i am hoping to fashion myself a see-through kickboard.

and now i go swimming with the noodles to inaugurate them. i love floating in the water, looking below at all the life in the intertidal zone. neap tide!


piranha: red origami crane (Default)
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